As a deacon, one way you can help people when they come to your church requesting aid is to offer to develop a debt reduction plan for them…
That sounds complex, but it isn’t.
There are two methods: debt snowball and debt avalanche.
I have explained them on my website here:
The idea is that you help the member list all their outstanding debts, along with the critical information associated with each: description, balance, interest rate, minimum payment, due date.
Then, you pick one of the methods. I prefer the snowball because it can give you quick, short-term wins that will help keep the member going for the big pay-off over the long haul. Present the two plans and see which they prefer.
The heart of the debt reduction plan is in helping the person locate extra money each month to contribute to the snowball.
This is how the diaconate can help. You may be able to review their finances and identify a relatively small debt that you can pay for them. This will probably eliminate only a small portion of their overall balance, but it will free up that monthly minimum payment.
That payment that you set free can then start the snowball (or trigger the avalanche, if you prefer).
You should build accountability into this plan. The plan should be presented in advance and the person should agreed to its terms before any money is released.
The person who is getting the help should agree to provide monthly status updates and credit card statements so that you can verify that they are sticking to the plan. Having that accountability in place can be a motivating factor. It’s not coercive. And you can also be a continuing source of encouragement to them as the person hits milestones.
This is one small way that, as a deacon, you can really change someone’s life. Debt reduction is not an easy task. It takes time, commitment, self-discipline, and personal responsibility. Sticking to a debt reduction plan for 12 or 18 or 24 months will help establish great new habits and instill a tremendous sense of accomplishment.